The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008 [P.L. 110- 351] authorizes tribes, tribal organizations and tribal consortia to apply for direct funding for Title IV-E foster care and adoption assistance funds. This paper describes the background of this act and provides guidance to tribes or tribal groups in applying. An electronic survey of twenty-seven tribes and key informant interviews with eight tribal program administrators provides some insight for tribal child welfare administrators and practitioners in how to structure the application and implementation process in their own communities. Two of the administrators have received IV-E planning grants and anticipate direct funding within two years, and one of these has developed a viable data reporting system. According to these preliminary results, data collection and reporting requirements under the Fostering Connections Act present one of the significant challenges for tribal child welfare programs and tribal policy makers. This paper explores this complex issue and provides recommendations to other tribal groups. It is anticipated that, with careful planning and assistance, the Fostering Connections Act will provide an opportunity for tribes to administer culturally grounded services to their families and collect information that tribes themselves will find relevant and useful.

Author: Erin Geary, MSW, Priscilla Day, MSW, Ed.D.
Date: March 2010